The race is on for Council: Redevelopment and transportation top candidates’ agendas
Editor’s note: This is a first in a two-part series of question-and-answer sessions with the candidates. Next week, a new set of questions will explore the roundabout, beautification and affordable housing.
Another week went by, and six candidates still intend to run for three seats in the race to serve on the South Lake Tahoe City Council as the Aug. 11 deadline fast approaches. The deadline will likely be extended to Aug. 16 for the hotly contested race considering incumbent Mayor Hal Cole, does not plan to run for the Nov. 7 election.
Councilman John Upton still hasn’t returned phone calls to indicate whether he’s running.
The candidates took time out Wednesday to answer the following questions posed by the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Q: What do you specifically plan to do for the locals of this city?
Jerry Birdwell: I want to see the streets and sidewalks done from the “Y” to Ski Run Boulevard.
John Cefalu: I think what locals have unfortunately lost in the course of redevelopment is all the focus of time, money and attention which has gone toward redevelopment and the redevelopment area was not designed for locals. It’s not convenient, not accessible, and you’ve got to pay for parking. Look at what the locals have lost in the process, and that’s unfortunate. Law enforcement has been scaled back and maintenance of the city is nonexistent.
Bill Crawford: The first thing that has to be done is to attempt to get the trust in local government.
Tom Davis: I want to do an inventory of transportation dollars to see how to implement free bus service.
Kathay Lovell: I think many of the projects we’re working on are for locals – the joint government center, road budget and plan for repairing priorities, renovation to the track in Phase 1 of the joint government center. And hopefully we can increase in this next budget cycle a new (snow) blower and a 5-year plan for how to replace our old snow equipment.
Tom Wendell: I plan to follow through with what the locals have been asking for, practically begging for – basic transportation infrastructure improvements.
Q: Do you want commercial air service at the Lake Tahoe Airport?
Jerry Birdwell: Yes, I think it would benefit the overall economy of the South Shore.
John Cefalu: Yes, but realistically it’s a stretch. Would I throw myself in front of a train for it, I don’t know. I think we’ve done a dismal job at promoting general aviation.
Bill Crawford: I’m indifferent – and the reason is, it boils down to what can the city afford. So far attempts have failed.
Tom Davis: Yes, I want regional jets – the 98-passenger ones. We talk about the economy, so if we’re going to change the economy, we’re going to need that airport – particularly with (the proposed) convention center.
Kathay Lovell: If with no subsidy, yes. Realistically, I don’t believe commercial service is in the near future. I feel fractional air service and general aviation are the most important priorities for that airport.
Tom Wendell: No, not in its current form. I think in today’s environment you pretty much can count it out – when you weigh the quality of life. The routes have not proven profitable. Perhaps if we burn alternative fuels it could be possible in the future.
Q: What can you point to in order to retain and attract businesses to this community?
Jerry Birdwell: Change our look. We are a destination area. The South Shore needs to look like a destination area to attract visitors. With curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lights, we could not only be attractive to visitors, but we could also enhance a pedestrian friendly attitude that we need for our neighborhoods. Highway 50 – I want to see that completed. A lot of pride and paint can go a long way in this community.
John Cefalu: We’ve got to make the process more user friendly. If someone makes an investment in what we have to do to go through an extremely complicated and expensive process, then we’ve got to pave the way for them.
Bill Crawford: I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the city. But I don’t think city government should be hostile to commerce. If the city is healthy, then people will want to come here.
Tom Davis: We need to continue to get rid of the red tape and 30 percent land coverage (regulatory property guidelines). We need to keep providing incentives. That’s why our regional plan needs economic incentives. The environment’s got the protection. I would say business is the endangered species.
Kathay Lovell: We need sidewalks and lighting for curb appeal. You start there and it feels kind of like walking into a home. If it doesn’t look inviting, people don’t go in.
Tom Wendell: We need to become a model community – one that sets the standard for green building construction for alternative fuels and for providing basic infrastructure. We need to be a leader in forging ahead with technologies to improve the quality of life and that will attract more investment.
South Lake Tahoe City Council Race
— Black Bear innkeeper Jerry Birdwell, filed
— Businessman John Cefalu, taken out papers, intending to run
— Retired teacher Bill Crawford, filed and qualified
— Businessman Tom Davis, filed
— City Councilwoman Kathay Lovell, rerunning for seat, filed and qualified
— Recreation enthusiast Tom Wendell, taken out papers, intending to run
— City Treasurer Steve Wysong, filed
— City Clerk Susan Alessi, filed
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When the Judicial & Law Enforcement Center was built 40 years ago, there were only 19,400 people living in Douglas County.